Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - There have already been several fires by individuals in Missoula County that burned out of control, prompting calls to 9-1-1 and the response of Missoula Rural Fire and the Missoula City Fire Departments.

KGVO News reached out to Missoula Rural Fire Battalion Chief Ron Lubke for some important safety tips for residents who plan to do any open burning.

A Permit is Required for Open Burning

“The first thing is that anybody that wants to burn needs to do is get a permit,” said Chief Lubke. “You can do that online through the Missoula County Fire Protection Association website or even if you just do a search for Missoula County burn permits. They cost seven dollars and that fee just covers the cost of administering the program. Once you have that burn permit, it is good for the entire burn season, which technically lasts till the end of August but generally around here ends about the end of June because of fire danger.”

Lubke said holders of a burn permit can activate it online the day they plan to burn.

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You can Activate your Open Burning Permit Online

“Each day that they want to burn they can activate that permit online and it'll tell them if burning is open that day or if there's expected weather, that may close burning, or bad air quality; things like that. Also, it'll tell them what's legal to burn. You have to burn clean, dry materials, natural materials, nothing man-made, no garbage or treated wood or anything like that. It will also tell you what the burning hours are and the regulations that go along with it.”

Lubke said common sense rules apply before you activate your online burn permit.

“Check the weather,” he said. Before you light your fire, find out if there are winds expected in the afternoon or unexpected storms. Be prepared for those things. Definitely have a water source available like a garden hose, or something like that, that you can keep your fire in check; maybe wet the area down around your burn pile, just to keep it from spreading. If you have a really large pile, we'd encourage folks kind of break that down into some smaller piles and burn them because you can control them a lot easier. You can feed material into the smaller piles as they burn. It keeps your fire a lot more manageable.”

When Burning, Never Leave the Fire Unattended and Have Water Available

One cardinal rule when open burning, is never to leave the fire unattended, even for a few minutes.

“Don't leave your fire unattended,” he said. “It seems like the majority of fires that we end up going to that escape from folks are generally that someone will say ‘I just turned my back for a minute’ or ‘I just ran to the house for a second, and when I came out it was all the way across and my neighbor's pasture’. So we definitely want to make sure you maintain your fire. Most fires have to be out by four o'clock in the afternoon. When your fire is done, we want you to soak it down real good. Check it for heat, and if it's too hot to touch without a glove on you need to soak it down some more. Stir it up and make sure it's out. We've had a number of fires over the years that have started from burns that were done several days earlier and have reignited several days later.”

Click here to get more information from Missoula Rural Fire.

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